Commentary: Toward a unified theory of personal and professional ethics

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law






In response to Dr. Ezra Griffith's essay, we support the view that forensic practice cannot be cleanly divided from its ethics foundation in medical and general psychiatric practice. Personal and professional values cannot be separated in formulating a unified theory of ethics for professionalism in forensic practice. We support Dr. Griffith's narrative perspective and offer a delineation of how narratives may be considered in forensic work. We would like readers to focus on both the duties and the moral ideals that ultimately define professional ethics. By honoring personal and professional narratives together, forensic professionals can advocate and reshape a system that devalues non-dominant cultures. They can also recognize more easily the influences that affect their forensic work. This kind of forensic practice, informed by narrative ethics while respecting fundamental principles, can be an essential part of what we aspire to as forensic professionals. As we argued in an earlier work, a robust professionalism for forensic psychiatry cannot ignore our physician background or our diverse personal histories. Dr. Griffith's essay contributes forcefully to the development of such a view.

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